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How to Keep Your Pets Safe in an Emergency

December 2, 2013

keep your pet safeFor those of you who’ve read more than one of my blog posts, it’s probably not a secret that I’m a dog person…yes, I’m definitely “that” dog person. You know the one? I dress my dog for Seahawks games, give her a special treat on her birthday, have pictures of her in my cubicle and take every chance to talk about her.

Can you blame me?  Ellie is pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.

But always near the front of my mind is what to do with her in the event of a fire or emergency.  I can’t always be home to be sure she’s safe (just as most people feel about their children), and according to the United States Fire Association, over 500,000 pets are affected by fires every year and about 1,000 fires are started by pets every year. Over time, I’ve taken more and more precautions to help keep my dog safe. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

–          Keep a ‘Pet Alert’ sticker in your window near your front door.  Firefighters know to look for these and they’re an excellent way to let them know that there may be a pet inside of your home. PetPlan Pet Insurance has a great, free, customizable download. You can also receive a free sticker and Pet Safety Pack from ASPCA.  Be sure to include the number of pets you have.

–          Include pet food and any medicines they may need in your family’s emergency preparedness kit. As much as my dog would probably love to eat tuna fish and peanut butter with me, in the event of a storm or earthquake, she’ll still do best with her kibble.

–          Keep leashes and collars near the exits of your home. If there’s a fire and you have to evacuate quickly, you won’t have time to go looking for your dog’s leash. I always keep Ellie’s hanging next to the front door, and one in the bedroom.

–          Be sure your pet has a collar (and microchip, if possible) with contact information.  In the midst of chaos that can ensue after an emergency, your pet may escape.  Micro chipping and collaring them will help increase your chances of recovering them.

–          Don’t leave pets alone near open flames. Animals are naturally curious and may accidentally knock over candles or lanterns.

–          If possible, keep your pets near the entrance of your home while you’re out.  If firefighters do have to enter your home, it will make your animal easier to locate.

–          I live in an upper floor apartment.  Thankfully my dog is small enough that I can put her in a pillowcase to carry her out the window with me (it may sound silly, but this is also a good idea to help carry cats out of your home)! By thinking ahead about how to get larger animals out of an upper floor window or out of an apartment, this will help you make faster decisions in an emergency!

–          When testing your smoke detectors, pay attention to how your pet reacts. Do they hide somewhere in your home? If so, that may be the first place your pet runs to in the event of an actual fire and it will be good information for the responders. Does your pet get frantic and uncontrollable? If so, this is a good opportunity to help teach them to remain calm so you’re not stuck trying to control them while also getting your family out of your home.

–          Keep treats or a favorite toy near your bed so your pet will be more willing to come and stay with you if you have to leave your home and you don’t have a leash for them.

–          Lastly, if you do experience a fire, take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.  Pets can suffer from smoke inhalation just as easily as people can!

It may sound silly to some, but my dog is like a child to me.  Just as I would help my human-children plan for a fire or emergency, I can also help prepare my dog!

Article by: Kristen Skinner

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